Yoga for Sleep: Get Some

Even Yoga Teachers Get the Bedtime Blues
Last night I woke up at about 1:30 am (thanks neighbour!). Most of the time, if I’m nudged out of slumber by birds–of the early 20s, late-night apartment crashing variety–I cram in some earplugs, chug down some milk or yogurt, and snuggle back into my deep rest.

Not last night. Last night my lovely, occasionally completely insane, mind launched into overdrive. Every single possible worry that could ever exist took up shop in my head, selling anxiety at the lowest possible price. And I was buying it.

Activating Systems: Take Them Down
Finally, finally, the yoga came through. I climbed back out of bed, snuggled my hip up against my wall, rolled onto my back, and stuck my legs up the wall. Viparita Karani. Dr. Roger Cole, a sleep research scientist in California who also happens to be an Iyengar yoga teacher, highly recommends this one for calming down the 8 activating systems in our body.

I’ve done other yoga tricks to take my adreneline down a notch in the night, but this was my first VK trial. And it worked!

Top 5 De-Activating Tips
Here’s what worked for me, in case it might work for you (Dr. Roger would surely agree):

1. Leg Lightness
Lie on your back with your butt far enough away from the wall that your legs are heavy against it. You want to be able to completely relax all your muscles.

2. On that Note…Relax all Your Muscles
Go mindfully from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, relaxing every inch of you.

3. Don’t Change a Thing
Don’t try to start breathing deeper, don’t try to start breathing slower or longer. Let your chest open by dropping your arms back along the floor, elbows bent cactus style and in line with your shoulders. Just be there, letting all your attention come to your breath, staying conscious of relaxing your muscles. Keep your eyes closed.

4. Ride the Wave
It’s true what they say about natural, calming, soothing, vital breath: Get out of the way. Once your activating systems start to relax your breath will naturally become deeper, longer, soothinger (I know, not a word, but sooo good, hey?). It may take time, but it will come. Let it come. It’s absolutely beautiful. I almost cried with relief.

5. Stay Warm
Wrap a blanket around your legs and your torso. Warmth is key to cooling down those activating systems.

PLUS: Kunda-What? Intro to Kundalini Yoga

Related links:
Yoga Journal: Sweet Slumber

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Top 5 Tap Into Peace Stress Busters

Feb 12, 2009 · Comment

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